Two architects re-purposed a 100 person marine survival lifeboat; Stødig, into a self sufficient expedition home and travelled 5000km from the UK to the Norwegian Arctic in 2019. Currently based in Tromsø.


Architects Guylee Simmonds and David Schnabel bought a marine survival lifeboat in February 2018 and after a year long conversion left on four month voyage to the Arctic. Along with Shackleton, Guylee's dog, they travelled from the UK to Tromsø, far north in the Norwegian Fjords. Situated at 70o north, Tromsø is the largest city in the Arctic and having arrived, the lifeboat and crew are spending the winter there, and exploring their surroundings. The aim of the expedition is to explore this wild and isolated landscape, demonstrate the ability of design innovation to facilitate self sufficiency in such extreme environments and to document and share the adventure through photography and film.


The voyage began in May 2019, departing the southern British port of Newhaven. The route skirted the Begian and Dutch coast, passing the Kiel canal in Germany into the Baltic. Passing up the Danish then Swedish coast past Copenhagen and Gothenburg, before crossing the Skagerrak south of the lower tip of Norway up to Bergen. The lifeboat then followed the route of the famous Hurtigruten ferry, passing up the fjords to Tromsø.


Guylee architect carpentry, sailing, kitesurfing, snowboarding

David architect photography, skiing, surfing, mountaineering

Shackleton explorer adventures, walks, licking, sniffing


8 countries - 5000km - 5 months


Stødig has had a scenic life already. Built in 1997 in Norway by Norsafe, she spent her previous life as Clansman Lifeboat No.1, serving the Western Isles of Scotland aboard the CalMac ferry, MV Clansman. Originally designed to carry 100 people in a survival situation, she is our robust, unsinkable and spacious blank canvas.


Our redesign includes two forward cabins, a kitchen and dining area, bathroom, bunk beds and stern cockpit (see the layout below). The name Stødig is a Norweigian adjective meaning sound and steadfast reflecting the lifeboat's reliable and functional design and her adaptation into a utilitarian expedition vessel.


1 stern cockpit 2 hatch lockers 3 chart table 4 long storage 5 wheel house 6 bunk beds 7 bathroom 8 living/dining 9 kitchen 10 storage 11 cabin1  12 cabin2


Why a lifeboat?

They are the ultimate functional product, intended for mass transport in survival situations. It was this functional aesthetic, their generous interior and their relative affordability that paved the way for this conversion and voyage. After spotting a converted lifeboat on a river three years ago, Guylee became convinced they had the potential to become a supreme adventure craft. With a trip to Norway already gestating, he then had to convince David it was a good idea...


How are you documenting the project?

David's passion is landscape and adventure photography, and he is recording every stage of the project. We are also lucky enough to have filmmakers COPA and Febril, notably Jonny Campbell making a feature film of the conversion. We hope to show the finished film at festivals in 2020.


How are you funding this adventure?

We both worked hard to raise funds alongside the conversion, and continue to work whilst travelling. At the same time we are benefiting from the generosity of a number of companies donating their products and a crowd funding campaign selling shares in the lifeboat, profits from which will go to the work of Hope Health Action. Please email us to find out more about these opportunities.


Where next?

Having reached Tromsø, we are beginning the next stage of our adventure, continuing to live aboard Stødig and using her as a base to explore the top of Norway. In 2020 we are looking forward to going further north, the last bit of the Norwegian coast we are yet to see. After that, who knows?


What breed is Shackleton?

Shackleton is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, originally bred to lure ducks from the river side in Canada. He does not have many opportunities to rustle ducks, his main role on board is morale and vacuum cleaning.

Stødig exemplifies a lot of things I am passionate about: adventure, self sufficiency, sustainability and a dogged determination to explore remote places in new ways. With Guylee and David’s design skills I am looking forward to seeing how they overcome the challenges facing them during the lifeboat’s conversion and how they can capture and share this entire odyssey.


MARK BEAUMONT adventurer & broadcaster

Everyone should do something like this when they are young, this voyage should inspire others to take on their own challenges.


SIR ROBIN KNOX-JOHNSTON sailing maverick



Hope Health Action provides life saving health and disability care to the world's most vulnerable without discrimination. Guylee has been involved in their work in Haiti since 2009, most recently spending 18 months working there.


© Guylee Simmonds & David Schnabel 2018